Custody cases in a divorce can get complicated, especially when it involves one of the parents living or moving to another state. Interstate custody laws could apply, which may impact not only decisions about custody, but also a child’s living arrangements.
How is child custody handled initially in Texas?
The state of Texas only has jurisdiction over the matter under certain circumstances. The most common scenario is when it’s the child’s home state at the time divorce and custody proceedings begin.
Texas would have jurisdiction if the child is now living in another state, but Texas was the child’s home state within six months before the proceedings commenced, and one of the parents continues to live there. So let’s say a divorce/custody case begins on June 1. The child lives with one of the parents in Oklahoma City. The other parent is in Dallas. But in March, the child’s home state was Texas; in this case, Texas would then have jurisdiction.
There are circumstances in which another state may decline its right to exercise jurisdiction. Let’s say in the same scenario, the child’s home state wasn’t Texas in the previous six months before the divorce/custody proceedings began. But Oklahoma still gives Texas jurisdiction because there is substantial evidence concerning the child’s welfare. For instance, the parent wrongfully abducted the child eight months ago from the state of Texas.
What other circumstances can impact interstate custody?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) enforces federal laws concerning child custody issues. In general, custody matters are based on the child’s home state (where the child lived for six months or longer). This prevents a parent from attempting to gain custody or change custody orders in another state. It also alleviates confusion over who has jurisdiction to decide custody.
There are other circumstances that can impact jurisdiction. An example is if the child was abandoned in a particular state and there are concerns that if sent back to another state, he or she would be neglected. If the child has significant connections to others in a state (such as grandparents who live in the state) and there is concern about his/her care in another state — for instance, physical abuse – then jurisdiction would be examined.
Can a parent be charged with kidnapping for taking a child to another state?
If there is a custody order in place, one parent is not allowed to move the child to another state in violation of the order. When this type of violation occurs, the parent may face charges of parental abduction.
It applies when a parent hasn’t been awarded custody. But even a parent who has custody rights can be charged with abduction if the court hasn’t allowed the move. Even if there aren’t court-ordered restrictions, a parent must ask permission from the other to move out of state.
Interstate custody can be very complicated. Each circumstance would need to be evaluated in order to determine a parent’s rights. If there are issues that arise in a divorce with regards to custody and state lines, it’s usually a good idea to consult an attorney.
Warren & Migliaccio help parents in the Dallas area who are dealing with child custody issues, including interstate child custody. Call or contact us online to set up a consultation – (888) 584-9614.